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Friday, Sept. 2, 2011 | 7:43 p.m.
Could Nevada catch Perry fever?
According to a poll released Friday by Republican firm Magellan Strategies, it already has.
The poll of 631 Republicans puts Texas Gov. Rick Perry up five points over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the GOP presidential primary race in Nevada. Perry draws 29 percent of the vote, while Romney draws 24 percent.
Nationally, those numbers wouldn’t be all that dramatic or surprising. But Nevada is a state Romney won handily in the 2008 presidential primaries. It’s a state in which Romney has the best and most established ground organization.
He’s even highlighting the Silver State on the national campaign trail — Romney unveils his big jobs plan in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
Perry hasn’t even shown up.
Still, Perry’s numbers in this poll are solid: 64 percent of those surveyed have a favorable opinion of Perry, compared to 63 percent for Romney; 16 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Perry, compared to 21 percent for Romney; and 18 percent have never heard of Perry, while 15 percent have never heard of Romney.
It’s a close race. But in a poll with a 4 percent margin of error, the takeaway is less about who between Romney and Perry will win and more of an indication that Nevada’s shaping up to be a two-way race.
Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich each secured between 5 and 7 percent of the potential vote in the Magellan poll of Republicans, 96 percent of whom said they are extremely or very likely to vote in the Nevada caucuses.
Of course, turnout on caucus day depends more on the comparative organization of the campaigns. Paul’s outfit, which turned out a second-place finish in 2008, already has boots on the ground, while Bachmann’s campaign hasn’t yet decided when or if it will be campaigning in Nevada.
Because the Nevada caucuses aren’t winner-take-all, if two candidates make a strong showing, they’ll split the spoil of delegates.